Imperfections or what makes a good photo?

Image EXIF Data

  • Date Taken: 12 Apr 2015, 12:54:20
  • Camera: M Monochrom
  • Focal Length: 90
  • Aperture: f/4
  • ISO: 320
  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 second

What makes a good photo? Is it technical perfection, is it composition? Does it have to tell a story? Is it color, or the lack of it?

I guess each of us has asked this question to ourself countless times when we try to improve our photographic work. Finding this answer feels a bit like finding the holy grail of photography. And to make things worse, it is a question that is probably impossible to answer if you try to figure out how to make a photo that pleases everybody. After all, the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is very true.

So, once we realize, that there is no universal answer to this question, we are facing the next dilemma. Who do we want to please? If you’re a professional photographer, the answer is pretty obvious, after all it is the client who pays your bill so you better make him happy. Even if it means that if the client’s taste differs from yours, you will shoot things you are not interested in, in a way you don’t like. At least until you are one of the few famous ones who can afford to be picky about their assignement.

But what does it mean for the rest of us? Should we hunt for likes on facebook and perfect the art of taking pictures of young kittens? Are colorful sunsets the answer?

For me, I decided to find out what makes a good photo for me, for me personally and shoot what I like the way I like it. If people like what I do, great. If not, I’m sure there is plenty of pictures that tickle your fancy on the internet.

So what makes a good picture for me? Well, it depends on the topic. In Landscape, I strive for perfection. Good exposure, no blown highlights, straight horizon and a composition that keeps the viewers eyes in the frame combined with great light.

For streetphotography, it’s all about interaction. I want the picture to tell a story, make the viewer think about what happens in the frame. Technical perfection? Sure, if I nail it, I take it. But I consider a streetphoto a good shot, even if I miss focus or blow highlights if there is a story. Sure, I probably won’t make a print of it, but I still consider it a good photo.

shot wide open with the 90mm. Despite the fact I missed focus, I think it is a good photo for the light and because it captured the fleeting moment when the young guy leading the group was distracted by the hot bike

Shot wide open with a 90mm manual focus lens. Despite the fact I missed focus, I like the shot for the light and because it captured the fleeting moment, when the young guy leading the group, was distracted by the hot bike.

Again, focus is off, but the posture and expression on her face just make me wonder what was on her mind in that little slice of time the shutter was open

Again, focus is off, but the posture and expression on her face just make me wonder what was on her mind in that little slice of time the shutter was open. Broken heart? Hurting shoes?

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